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Richard Scardina
7th June 2009, 17:05
What does it really mean....

O'Sensei


Is this to really mean Master?

* Grand Master?

* Great Teacher?


What?

JS3
7th June 2009, 19:07
Here's an explination given by Meik Skoss (http://www.koryu.com/library/mskoss9.html)

"Finally, a little piece of data about the term O-Sensei. Many aikidoka of the Ueshiba persuasion (and I'm one, too, so don't get your sensibilities twisted into a knot) seem to think of it as referring *only* to Ueshiba Morihei sensei. Nope. That's just not the case.

It's only a term implying a great deal of respect and I can think of a couple folk in recent memory for whom the term is/was also used. Two of 'em are alive today. So, one guy's O-Sensei is just another fellow's Joe Shlabotnick. Not a big deal but, technically the precise way to say it would be, "Ueshiba O-Sensei" meaning the the founder of Aikido--to differentiate him from, say, "Kato O-Sensei" (the 21st headmaster of Tatsumi-ryu) or "Sakagami O-Sensei" (the late headmaster of Itosu-ryu); also to differentiate him from his son, the second Doshu (Kisshomaru S.) and his grandson, Moriteru, the current Aikikai Hombu Dojo-cho. They're both Ueshiba Sensei, so it can be a little hard to know which one someone's talking about out of context. Not a big deal, just a little more information..."

Richard Scardina
8th June 2009, 04:34
Thanks for your re-ply/post. Am I to assume the term is meant to mean "founder"?

Juan Perez
8th June 2009, 05:04
Thanks for your re-ply/post. Am I to assume the term is meant to mean "founder"?

http://www.koryu.com/library/wbodiford1.html

Your answer would be in this article. You can use the search option in the main page with the word "founder".

Richard Scardina
8th June 2009, 09:17
http://www.koryu.com/library/wbodiford1.html

Your answer would be in this article. You can use the search option in the main page with the word "founder".

Nice link, although not a conclusive, definitive answer.

Brian Owens
8th June 2009, 10:17
...Am I to assume the term [o-sensei] is meant to mean "founder"?

Nope.

It means "honorable teacher" for wont of a better translation. When Aikido practitioners use the term, the man they are refering to happens to be the founder, but the term doesn't mean founder. (As mentioned above, one of the men often referred to as o-sensei is a 21st generation teacher, so clearly not the founder.)

Simon Keegan
8th June 2009, 12:43
O - Great
Sensei - [one who has] gone before


So in other words, a great man whose example we follow.

JS3
8th June 2009, 14:23
Another use as stated in the article I linked to, is that if you have a father and
son in the same dojo (like Ueshiba Morihei and Ueshiba Kisshomaru).
O'Sensei could be used to refer to the father and Sensei to refer to the son.

Here's another article on the topic. (http://www.fightingarts.com/reading/article.php?id=269)

Juan Perez
10th June 2009, 03:04
Nice link, although not a conclusive, definitive answer.

Well, I hope someone can give you one.

e-budoka
10th June 2009, 08:16
I think like Simon said- 'O' is an honorific prefix, and Sensei is...well...Sensei.

I can't really see there being much more to it than that (at least when most people use it).

yoj
10th June 2009, 11:33
It's like a whole other language isn't it?

Aaron T
11th June 2009, 02:03
Really Rickster, I think you got your answer, maybe not what you wanted. Since those don't seem to fit the agenda....

Maybe O'Sensei means,

"sleeps with another female student?" or "at least my house note is paid."


Aaron Fields
Seattle Jujutsu Club, Hatake Dojo
Sea-Town Sambo
www.seattle-jujutsu.org

Richard Scardina
11th June 2009, 03:04
Really Rickster, I think you got your answer, maybe not what you wanted. Since those don't seem to fit the agenda....

Maybe O'Sensei means,

"sleeps with another female student?" or "at least my house note is paid."


Really? .......

Aaron T
11th June 2009, 05:33
Yep, that is my line and I am sticking with it.

Aaron Fields

Walker
11th June 2009, 07:21
Aaron, you've probably heard the one where the female student is going, "Oh sensei, oh sensei!" and he replies, "Not O'Sensei, just a shihan." rata tat ting! :eek:

Juan Perez
11th June 2009, 23:29
Really? .......

So, Rick ... have you found your answer, or do you have anything to add to this thread?

I'm just wondering if your inquiry was a Socratic method that would enable you to enter into a discussion on the subject in which you would participate and share some deeper knowledge on the subject.

Or, did you really NOT know what O'Sensei meant?

Neil Yamamoto
12th June 2009, 04:23
O'Sensei is actually the name of a short lived brand of cereal released by the Japan Best Brand Food Company. They thought by combining the "O" shape of a hungry childs mouth waiting to be fed by mother with a title of respect in Japanese society, it would help the maturing child to develop better manners and respect for society as a whole. Sort of a subliminal message type of thing.

They also attempted this with bringing Winchell's doughnuts franchises to the country, along with other round shaped foods. What they didn't count on was the Oscar Meyer Hot Dog boom taking place and the target audience of children just grew up telling their parents to take a flying leap at a doughnut and screw off.

Since that failed in the interest of public harmony and such, Ueshiba Morihei offered to take on the "O'Sensei" honorific, grow a long whispy beard, and act as a quasi religous figure of great spirit and physical powers. While this was partially successful in Japan and to some extent in Hawaii, in the rest of the Western hemisphere, it simply was a way to figure out where all the failed judoka, and kendoka were gathering and target this audience with beer ads and cigarette rolling paper ads in the early 1960's.

Treating the question with all the respect it deserves... I know return my attention back to something of value and worthy or research.

Juan Perez
12th June 2009, 23:21
O'Sensei is actually the name of a short lived brand of cereal released by the Japan Best Brand Food Company. They thought by combining the "O" shape of a hungry childs mouth waiting to be fed by mother with a title of respect in Japanese society, it would help the maturing child to develop better manners and respect for society as a whole. Sort of a subliminal message type of thing.

They also attempted this with bringing Winchell's doughnuts franchises to the country, along with other round shaped foods. What they didn't count on was the Oscar Meyer Hot Dog boom taking place and the target audience of children just grew up telling their parents to take a flying leap at a doughnut and screw off.

Since that failed in the interest of public harmony and such, Ueshiba Morihei offered to take on the "O'Sensei" honorific, grow a long whispy beard, and act as a quasi religous figure of great spirit and physical powers. While this was partially successful in Japan and to some extent in Hawaii, in the rest of the Western hemisphere, it simply was a way to figure out where all the failed judoka, and kendoka were gathering and target this audience with beer ads and cigarette rolling paper ads in the early 1960's.

Treating the question with all the respect it deserves... I know return my attention back to something of value and worthy or research.

Neil, excellent post, considering the value of this thread. I am considering starting similar threads and stopping by occasionally to "stir the pot" with one sentence interjections and indirectly related questions so as to make the threads even longer. Like, "What is a dojo?", and then stopping by with additional inquiries on the same thread such as "Can the dojo then be in your house, or also just in your mind?" and so on. Great fun to be had by all.

Richard Scardina
18th June 2009, 04:18
The basis is to hear from others here, as I have heard from some outside of this forum, having different meanings

Brian Owens
18th June 2009, 05:13
The basis is to hear from others here, as I have heard from some outside of this forum, having different meanings

Can any of those giving different meanings prove fluency in the Japanese language, or a bona fide membership in a Japanese martial tradition?

If not, then you should treat their opinions with all the consideration with which they are due.

yoj
18th June 2009, 10:21
Getting caught up with exact meanings in other languages is usually a waste of time, because you don't have the whole context of the language/culture.

We used to call our old head, "the old man" a literal translation would be meaningless and an exact definition pretty hard too, but native english speakers all know the implication.

It means Grand Poobah.

Richard Scardina
18th June 2009, 12:46
Can any of those giving different meanings prove fluency in the Japanese language, or a bona fide membership in a Japanese martial tradition?

If not, then you should treat their opinions with all the consideration with which they are due.

No. But neither does any discussion on any thread or forum. So what is your point?

e-budoka
18th June 2009, 15:39
Hey Richard, howsit going.

you've copped a bit of a pounding on this one- but I think Brian was trying to help.
I have a feeling that a few might have not known how to take the enquiry- (I know I had to give it a couple of seconds) it's just that as I stated earlier, 'O' is honorific prefix- you should at least have a vague idea of what Sensei means- or at least means to you- and the rest was covered by another poster who said something like without full context, there is only so far you can go.

I would say that about does it? whaddaya reckon?

Brian Owens
18th June 2009, 18:43
...So what is your point?

My point is that anyone can say it means anything. That doesn't mean they are correct.

If someone is saying that o-sensei means "founder," for example, then they obviously don't know what they are talking about; but the one being told might not know that it is wrong (Why would he ask if he already knew?), and so it is best to ask the question of those who are most likely to know: people who speak the language, or those involved in traditional arts. The opinion of "O-sensei" Joe Blow, the "Soke" of Jou Burou Ryu Ninjitsu is not to be trusted.

Richard Scardina
18th June 2009, 23:46
Getting caught up with exact meanings in other languages is usually a waste of time, because you don't have the whole context of the language/culture.

We used to call our old head, "the old man" a literal translation would be meaningless and an exact definition pretty hard too, but native english speakers all know the implication.

It means Grand Poobah.
So, all of those non-Japanese studying Japanese arts, which have Japanese terms, should cast out the Japanese terms, because it is a waste of time.

Brian Owens
19th June 2009, 06:09
So, all of those non-Japanese studying Japanese arts, which have Japanese terms, should cast out the Japanese terms, because it is a waste of time.

If that's what you think, then why study Japanese arts at all? Why not study European arts, or American arts?

Studying Budo is not just about physical skill aquisition; it's also about history, tradition, and culture -- and language is part of that culture.

I don't find that to be a waste of time at all. If you do, perhaps you should look elsewhere.

Richard Scardina
20th June 2009, 05:54
If that's what you think, then why study Japanese arts at all? Why not study European arts, or American arts?

Studying Budo is not just about physical skill aquisition; it's also about history, tradition, and culture -- and language is part of that culture.

I don't find that to be a waste of time at all. If you do, perhaps you should look elsewhere.


I was adding a flair for dramatic in response to

yoj's post;


Getting caught up with exact meanings in other languages is usually a waste of time, because you don't have the whole context of the language/culture.

We used to call our old head, "the old man" a literal translation would be meaningless and an exact definition pretty hard too, but native english speakers all know the implication.

It means Grand Poobah.

Brian Owens
20th June 2009, 08:42
I was adding a flair for dramatic in response to

yoj's post;

Getting caught up with exact meanings in other languages is usually a waste of time, because you don't have the whole context of the language/culture....

Yeah, I got that after re-reading your post with his quote. Mea culpa.

However, he did say (and I agree) that, "Getting caught up with exact meanings in other languages is usually a waste of time..."

One needn't really know that sensei means "one who has gone before" to understand that the word is probably applied to the senior teacher in your school, and not to the new kid. You learn what sensei means in context, without transliterating the word.

The reason it's "usually" a waste of time is because, at a certain level and in certain cases, learning more about the language and culture of the milleu in which the arts developed can bring a sense of depth to one's study.

Anyway, I'm starting to drift off topic (as I often do). I hope it was clear that "o-sensei" just means "venerable teacher," "respected teacher," "the old man, not his son," etc. Or maybe to put it in a Western context, you could say it means "My teacher, Mr. Smith" rather than "My teacher, John." The "O-" prefix is just an honorific prefix, often added to Japanese words to show a higher level of politeness.

yoj
20th June 2009, 10:21
That's funny. It's a waste of time, because that's not how you learn what it means in the context of the culture in which it exists. As Brian pointed out, and better than I did obviously.

It's like calling someone Sensei Bill Smith, like it's some kind of title, it isn't, and doing so like that makes it abundantly clear that whoever is using it doesn't have much of an idea about the cultural side of this stuff. And that's fine, there is no law that says they have to.

So Rickster, what had you been told the term meant?

Richard Scardina
20th June 2009, 17:32
Hey. The thread is about discussion. No matter if one thinks it is "usually" or not. I am not looking for a right or wrong. It, like any thread or forum is about rhetorical discussion.

e-budoka
21st June 2009, 07:31
So Rickster, what had you been told the term meant?

Hey yeah, I'd like to know as well- were they far off what you have been told here?

Richard Scardina
22nd June 2009, 03:05
Yep, that is my line and I am sticking with it.

Aaron Fields
A country song?





Hey yeah, I'd like to know as well- were they far off what you have been told here?
Again. I am not looking to produce anything controversial. I started the thread looking for responses.

yoj
22nd June 2009, 11:24
It's not about controversy, I'm just always curious to hear about weird translations, it's amusing is all.

Richard Scardina
23rd June 2009, 03:31
It's not about controversy, I'm just always curious to hear about weird translations, it's amusing is all.

Well, I am glad the thread brought you some amusement.